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Review: LEGO City Undercover

It’s been a long time since I visited LEGO City. I was known as a true hero. Bringer of justice and peace. The one and only cop that could arrest the infamous criminal named Rex Fury. After the arrest I took some time for myself and fled the city. But it’s time for my return now. Intel tells me that Fury was able to escape his prison and is seeking for revenge on me…. And my girl. I won’t allow that, my love must go on forever, like in that popular boat movie.

LEGO City Undercover is a very important game for Wii U and therefore really must live up to expectations. LEGO City is the first big Wii U game to release in a while but is it worth buying? What’s this game all about?

First things first, LEGO City Undercover is one of the first LEGO titles in ages that isn’t inspired on a popular movie. No more Lord of the Rings or Batman characters, this time  TT Fusion took a risk by creating a new and exclusive LEGO universe for Wii U. Don’t be afraid however, the gameplay you all know and love from previous LEGO game is still there.

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(Searching for clues using the scanner).

This time you’ll take control over Chaise McCain, a good cop that will do everything to complete his task. It’s his job to solve several crimes in the city and to recapture Rex Fury. Quite an adult and serious story you may think, but it’s far from that. Presentation and story telling is without a doubt one of LEGO’s City biggest achievements. The game is filled with tongue-in-cheek humour and little winks towards popular pop-culture.

You’ll notice this straight in the beginning when you enter the city by boat while two familiar LEGO figurines are holding each other on deck like they could fly. Movie fans will definitely understand what I’m talking about. Next to those obvious winks and jokes, the characters often make remarks that contain a ‘double message’. Kids who are playing the game will not get those jokes and might stare at their parents in confusion while those parents are laughing out loud.

The charming LEGO characters really manage to make you laugh while playing a video game.

 

Thanks to this TT Fusion managed to create a game that can be enjoyed by a huge variety of players. Young gamers will be charmed by the peace loving colourful and distracting city, while older players will continue their quest to see another funny cut scene. All credits go to TT Fusion for this one. The voice acting and animations of the characters are by far one of the best ever seen. The charming LEGO characters really manage to make you laugh while playing a video game. An achievement often tried in the past but never as successful as now.

Although humour is one of the game’s biggest selling points, it isn’t the only reason why you should pick this game up in stores. As you may already have heard, LEGO City Undercover is an open world sandbox game just like GTA but more friendly and colourful. What this means is that you can choose to complete all missions as fast as possible or to wander around in de big city that provides everything for your enjoyment.

The city features a lot of vehicles you can control, pedestrians who sometimes act kind of strange and a lot of minigames to complete. The open world is based upon big cities like San Francisco, New York City and Washington and are a true joy to stay in. It’s not a city with a lot of personality, pedestrians don’t talk to you, but nevertheless it’s an enjoyable and playful world to be in. Throughout the city you can activate several events or minigames to spend some extra time if you want. Not all of those can be activated from day 1, you have to earn new skills in order to complete those. That’s a rather smart decision because this way the city always has something new to offer while you’re advancing in the story.

A LEGO game won’t be a LEGO game if you weren’t able to build things in the city as well. At certain points you’ll be able to build or rebuild important building or vehicles for your aid. An example, you can build a garage to generate new LEGO cars, that are fully customizable as well. To unlock those special builds, you’ll have to find the so-called ‘super blocks’ in the city. One of the skills needed to do so is the awesome looking scanner featuring the Wii U GamePad.

Chaise McCain has control over a very futuristic mobile device in game that is translated to players thanks to the Wii U GamePad. The biggest innovation is a scanner that McCain can activate to ‘scan’ the environment for enemies or hidden items. When he does so, the player can aim his/her GamePad towards the screen and move it up, down, right or left to discover secrets on the GamePad screen. Other genius use of the GamePad are the calls McCain gets from his colleagues. While receiving a call, the character will be displayed on the GamePad screen while you’re still able to do whatever you want on the television screen. A technique that really shows its true potential during missions.

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(Welcome to the big city).

The missions in the game always take place in separated locations in the city. When you enter a mission, you automatically leave the open world game. Missions are set in a ‘closed environment’ with a fixed camera point. This may sound a little bit strange but it works. All missions feature the classic LEGO action like building or breaking things in order to unlock a path, searching for clues using you scanner and even have a little dress up party.

McCain can change into different personalities when he finds a new outfit. By completing mission, you’ll gain new outfits. Those outfits will give him some special powers as well. When he’s dressed as a criminal, he can enter prisons unnoticed or force bars to break using a crowbar. As miner he’s able to blow stuff up using dynamite. As cop he’s able to scan the environment for clues. The game features a wide variety of those costumes, each with its own strength and weakness. It’s up to you to discover them all and to discover the minigames you can activate while wearing one of the costumes in the city.

The missions therefore aren’t that hard to complete and the environmental puzzles are easily completed. While playing the missions you’ll notice that the game is meant for a young audience and is rather straightforward. Just like in the cut scenes however, the missions are packed with obvious winks to other popular games, excessive use of over the top slow motion moments and other, typical, self mocking LEGO humour. The missions aren’t hard at all and often let you do things you did before but you’ll never get a feeling of boredom.

Some may reconsider buying this game because of the difficulty level but that isn’t really LEGO city’s weakness. The most obvious weakness of the game are the loading times. LEGO City takes a lot of time to load (1 minute sometimes) and there isn’t really anything to do while loading. A dull white bar will be displayed on both screens and you’ll simply have to wait while loading. Taking all the unlockable and environmental elements into consideration, it make sense that the game has to load but it isn’t fun while waiting.

Aside from that LEGO City Undercover really turned out to be an innovating game on Wii U with fun implementations of the Wii U GamePad. It’s by far one of the better looking games on the system thanks to the successful marriage of LEGO elements with real world environments .The missions can sometimes feel as a rehearsal of the ones before but always remain fun to play thanks to the humour.

Finally, you’ll have fun with this game for a long time. LEGO City Undercover features a lot of missions, outfits, vehicles, buildings, minigames and much more to collect. TT Fusion did good by not relying on  popular movies once more, this new LEGO world definitely is one of the best ever created. Pick the game up in stores and relive your youth or play it with your children. Either way, you’ll have a lot of fun, LEGO promise.

8.5/10

 

Got interested in games since I could read. Started with Nintendo but evolved into an all-round gamer. I love all kind of games; triple A games to Indie. If the vibe is right, I'll enjoy playing it.